Riege: Pheasant Hunting Dream in Harvey, N.D.

Published 8:26 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2014

By Bob & Ginny Riege

Have you stepped back in time? Or are you watching some movie that has come out of the 1950’s? The answers to your questions is summed up in two words; North Dakota.

Allow me to back up a bit and tell you how I found out about this paradise. A very good friend of mine, Jason Mitchell from Jason Mitchell Outdoors and resident of North Dakota called one day in the middle of the summer and said. “Bob you have got to get yourself out to Harvey, North Dakota.” The excitement in his voice told me that I should put down my ice tea and listen. “I’m telling you that it is like it use to be when we were kids growing up. You will see at least 300 pheasants in a day and you can’t believe it, but seriously the sky will turn black with birds.”

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Now I have hunted pheasants in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and even Nebraska for over forty years, and I have been on some good shoots, but really 300 pheasants a day? This guy has been out in the sun to long. So to sooth my friend I told him that I would see if I could fit it into my schedule for October. I figured that right after duck opener and just after the beginning of pheasant season would be a good time to get my Irish Setters on some real active birds. So, with a pause in my speech, I told Jason that I would give Nicki Weissman Job Development/ Economic Development Director and CVB Coordinator of Harvey, North Dakota a call.

I took the opportunity of the slow summer fishing season to sit down one evening and call out to Harvey, ND to talk to Nicki Weissman. What I heard on the other end of the line was remarkable. She told me that a number of goose, duck and pheasant hunters had visited Harvey last year and that their success ratio was outstanding. In our conversation, I asked; “Why is this area so good for waterfowl and upland game?” The answer from Nicki was a simple one word; “Habitat.”

Throughout the area around Harvey, North Dakota there are places that hold pheasants in huntible numbers. There are private lands with scattered potholes and sloughs or woody draws that provide good places to hunt. These prairie potholes provide an excellent sportsmen’s paradise with a plethora of ducks and geese.

Public lands, (Lonetree Wildlife Management Area 25,730 acres) whether game production areas or waterfowl production areas, which are managed by the state or federal government, are also excellent spots for hunters to look for a few roosters, sharp tailed grouse, or Hungarian partridge. In fact, a hunter would be hard pressed to hunt this entire WMA in a lifetime.

We met Nicki Weissman and Mike Jensen from North Dakota Department of Commerce at JW’s restaurant for breakfast. JW’s specializes in awesome omelets, and lunch specials that will keep you going all day long. More importantly, this is where many of the locals go and it is a good place for nonresidents to make contact with landowners and community members. This is where traditions are born. Traditions are something that Harvey, North Dakota has to offer especially when it comes to hunting in the fall. Harvey, North Dakota has hunting rooted in the traditional family methods and it is carried on from generation to generation.

We started our hunt in a narrow strip of Milo adjacent to a close-cropped alfalfa field. It didn’t look like it would hold a lot of birds, but in spots it looked a little thicker and maybe we would find some. We hadn’t gone twenty yards when Laddy struck his famous pose and as we approached the words, Rooster, Rooster rang through the air in competition with the report from the shotgun shells. This same sequence of events occurred numerous times throughout the morning and at midday we were tired and the dogs needed a rest.

Before leaving Harvey, we decided to meet back at Hornbacher Lunch around noon. As we approached the cafe we all could smell the fresh baked pies and the roast beef that awaited our abundant appetites. Everyone helped themselves to roast beef; mash potatoes, gravy, cranberries, salad and a host of other home cooked delicacies. Everyone had the opportunity to fill up on food and conversation, while at the dinner table. Again, this is how I remembered the “good old days of hunting.” Oh! I should mention that the meal was a meager $6.00 per person, a true bargain at double the price.

The afternoon was even more impressive than the morning. Tim Nelson, a local hunter who raises and hunts yellow labs, took us to an abandoned farmhouse that was bordered by a windbreak of cedar trees and oaks. Here in the tall switch grass we found an abundant amount of pheasants loafing in the midday sun. It seemed that every step we took five or six roosters would rise in rackus cackles. The promise of seeing two to three hundred birds did come true.

On the way back to our trucks Laddy stopped at the edge of the field and pointed a lone rooster in a small tuft of grass. As the bird clawed it’s way skyward into the deep blue of the autumn sky, I turned to Nicki and Mike and said, “This is a dream come true.” As the rooster gained altitude and sailed out of sight I also heard Mike say, “North Dakota is a true paradise.”

Harvey, North Dakota is legendary for its great hunting. Flocks of hundreds of birds are ever present. The people are some of the friendliest, most accommodating, and they are dedicated to their outdoor sports. The food and accommodations are steeped in good “hometown hospitality,” that gives you the legendary experience.

With all these factors to consider you need to put a dream pheasant hunt in Harvey, ND on your “buck list” for the upcoming year. Start planning today by contacting Nicki Weissman, Economic Development Executive Director/ Job Development Authority Director. 120 West 8th St. Harvey, ND 58341. Phone: 701-324-2490 or Fax: 701-324-2674. Website: www.harveynd.com or email HarveyJDA@harveynd.com. Or contact Mike Jensen mjjensen@nd.gov, www.ndtourism.com.